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Bus Riders Union hails federal civil rights review of MTA

The war of words between the Bus Riders Union and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority continued Thursday over a pending civil rights review of past and pending cuts to bus service.

The transit agency said the review would be part of a previously scheduled routine audit, but for the BRU, a nonprofit that advocates for low-income and minority transit riders, the federal review marks a significant milestone.

"This is the biggest break since we sued the MTA in 1996," said lead organizer Esperanza Martinez, who was joined at a morning news conference by representatives of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance and some bus riders.

Martinez said service gains made in the wake of the 1996 lawsuit could be almost completely reversed by year's end if MTA officials move ahead with current plans.

As an example, she cited a proposed route cut on Arlington Avenue, with the suggested alternative of using bus service on Western Avenue.

"Do you know how far it is from Arlington to Western?" she asked.

The parallel streets are generally about five to six residential blocks apart.

The civil rights inquiry will be included in a regularly scheduled audit, one that already takes equity issues into account, said Marc Littman, a spokesman for the MTA.

He added that the some service cuts are unavoidable because of funding shortfalls, but that overall service has improved in many ways. Routes are better coordinated with each other and more buses are arriving on time, he said. The cutbacks include limiting overlapping, under-used routes that could be consolidated to spare and even expand resources within essential corridors, he said.

"The Bus Riders Union has a hard time grasping the dynamics of the changing transportation system," he said. "We're not abandoning the bus program, but we've got to integrate this system."

"We take it seriously," he said of the federal review. "And we believe we're in compliance."


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Comments () | Archives (10)

Since when are buses a civil right? Besides, this is really subsidizing a hidden illegal alien tax.

The BRU is so out of touch with realistic transit planning. Esperanza and those of the BRU ilk think the MTA can print money on the 25th floor of the Gateway Building and fund all the local and other municipal bus lines. The truth is, there have to be cuts and the cuts hurt. It's either this or no bus service at all. No wonder bus service doesn't effectively work in L.A. The BRU wants service on skid row and no service where it counts: to and from the Westside, San Fernando Valley, Downtown, and East Los.

" the BRU, a nonprofit that advocates for low-income and minority transit riders"

That would make it a racist organization. All communication with the BRU should be cut off immediately. The LA Times should investigate the racist roots of this organization.

Does L.A. have any areas that aren't predominently poor or people of color and more? As for walking 6 blocks to get to a bus stop . . . better than no service at all!

The MTA budget has grown significantly over the last few years due to new revenue from the measure R half cent sales tax, 20% of which was slated towards operations. Since the money is there there is no justification of these service cuts.

The MTA has always had a huge budget surplus that they could have used to save and keep the lines that they have running - instead , they want to spend it all on construction of rail lines that go nowhere and won't be finished for another few decades! The cost is so prohibitively expensive that of course they are going to whine they don't have enough money and try to cut service.

Meanwhile, people still need to get where they need to go NOW, they still need transportation to do the things they need to do in their lives (e.g. getting a job and keeping it.) People can't afford to wait. I'd rather take a bus (and rail) that already exists, that can go where I want it to go now, rather than wait for their imaginary rail system of the future that may or may not appear in another lifetime.

The WB: I take it by your comment that "Skid Row" is your new name for South Central and Koreatown.

There's a bus riders union? I think I've seen everything. As a kid I took the bus everywhere and we always had to walk 5-6 blocks. It never occurred to me that I had a right not to walk those 5 or 6 blocks. I feel really cheated! What next? All I know is that I got all over the city and yes I walked many blocks to get where I was going. Unfortunately, my kids will never have that experience because I would NEVER allow them on a bus! Why doesn't the rider's union care about the atmosphere of the bus?

Astonished: Have you ever walked more than three blocks to catch a bus in L.A.? It ain't pretty.

So all trains are filled with whites and epithets and we refuse to let low income ride the rails? And to say trains go "nowhere" is a blanket argument when people can take Metro rail to downtown, Hollywood, Pasadena, Long Beach, culver City (2012), East LA, Boyle Heights, Koreatown, Westlake, etc.... So don't use empty threats. The BRU leaders are so out of touch, they don't realize their own members ride the Purple Line as well and then fight against it's existence.The BRU themselves are racist.


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